Naval officer continues top marks on FORCE test

Cdr Matthew Otoupal

Cdr Matthew Otoupal, left, was presented with his Platinum FORCE Test pin by RAdm Brian Santarpia, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic on April 20. Photo: Mona Ghiz, MARLANT PA.

Joanie Veitch 
Trident Newspaper

After scoring 398 out of 400 in his most recent FORCE fitness evaluation, Cdr Matthew Otoupal is understated when asked how he reached the Platinum level, a feat accomplished by fewer than one per cent of Canadian Armed Forces members.

“I wanted to push myself during the test,” he says. “I tend to hold onto the (score) cards to write down and compare for all the different things I have to do during the test. It helps to motivate me.”

It’s actually the second time Cdr Otoupal, who is Comptroller for the Formation — Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) and Joint Task Force Atlantic (JTF(A)) — has scored at the Platinum level. The first time was in 2019 when he was posted in Kingston, Ontario.

Due to restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, FORCE fitness evaluations weren’t held in 2020.

When asked how he’s managed to reach the top level twice, he is quick to give credit to his wife Jennifer for introducing him to CrossFit training about four years ago, after she joined a CrossFit gym when they were living in Victoria.

“To be honest, she dragged me along with her at first but it didn’t take long for me to get into it.”

After he was hit by a car while riding his bike to work at CFB Esquimalt, Cdr Otoupal took about three months off to recover. When he was able to get back to doing workouts he appreciated the functional fitness part of the program even more.

“My biggest challenge in staying fit is making sure I don’t re-injure myself as I have ongoing back and shoulder issues from the accident. This works well for me as it’s a very well-rounded program, and the CrossFit community is great, a very positive environment.”

Having four different postings over the past five years, not to mention the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has also come to appreciate the versatility of CrossFit. 

When pandemic restrictions shut everything down in March 2020, Cdr Otoupal was living in Kingston, Ontario, with his wife and three children. As soon as their CrossFit gym began offering workouts online, he and Jennifer joined in from home, using a combination of equipment they had, as well as some on loan from their gym. 

They liked the “home gym” experience so much, after he received another posting — this time to Ottawa — the couple decided to create a gym in their garage.

“It’s a true Canadian gym. We have a wood stove in there, so when it’s 20-below in winter we have to go out to stoke the fire first, but it’s great.”

Now on an Imposed Restriction posting to Halifax, his family remains in Ottawa and he works out at  the fleet gym in HMC Dockyard Halifax and continues to follow a workout program created by his coach back in Ontario. It’s the same program his wife is following, which leads to some friendly competition.

“We like to compare scores, for sure. She used to be a national level swimmer in her youth, so she’s always been in great shape.”

Despite a full work schedule, as well as working on his Chartered Professional Accountant designation, Cdr Otoupal said he prioritizes workouts for both his physical and mental health.

“Fitness is important for everyone but when you’re in the military it’s even more important. I don’t think I’d be where I am in my career if I had not pursued fitness throughout.”

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